As software developers, we do our work during “Maker Time” or “Flow”. This time regularly gets interrupted for reasons like:
- we have to wait for a deploy/install/compile step to finish
- we run into a problem we don’t know how to solve
- we received an IM or an email
- we are low on energy and can’t concentrate any more
The cost of these interruptions is not only the time it takes to get back into flow, but the risk of following a distraction vector and moving away from the task at hand. What is a distraction vector? Here are some examples:
- reading Hacker News/reddit/…
- checking Twitter or Facebook or [insert your favorite social network here]
- … [fill in your favorite waste of time here]
I noticed that I have developed these as automatic responses to interruptions of maker time and often I don’t even notice that this is happening.
The best way to get rid of this automated response is to replace it with a beneficial habit. I am working on developing these two habits:
Be intentional about my information consumption
I use http://intigi.com to get the news that are relevant to my work. This helps eliminating irrelevant distraction vectors. I recommend you find out more about managing your information diet.
Do physical exerciselets
The benefits of exercise are so obvious, and still, I am under the impression that a lot of people struggle with doing regular exercise (me included). I try to exercise regularly using these short exerciselets, that each fit easily into a single maker time interruption:
- 10 squats, duration: 30 seconds
- 10 pushups, duration: 30 seconds
- 10 back extensions with exercise ball, duration: 30 seconds
- Yoga, e.g., sun salutation, duration: 2-3 minutes
By doing one of these exerciselets whenever I have a natural break, my cognitive ability is noticeably enhanced afterwards. Not to mention the health benefits of regular exercise.
What exerciselets do you recommend for natural programmers’ breaks? I do these in my private office. Would you feel comfortable doing this in a shared office?